Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari (b. 1960) is an Iranian diplomat, academic and current Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has held various significant diplomatic and cabinet posts since the 1990s. Zarif is also a visiting professor at the School of International Relations and University of Tehran, teaching diplomacy and international organizations. He was the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations from 2002 to 2007.
Zarif has held other domestic and international positions as well: adviser and senior adviser to the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister in Legal and International affairs, member of the prominent personalities of the Dialogue Among Civilizations, Head of the UN Disarmament Committee in New York, member of the prominent personalities of global governance, and Deputy in International Affairs of the Islamic Azad University.
Born to an "affluent, religiously devout and politically conservative merchant family in Tehran", he was educated at the Alavi School, a private religious institution.
Zarif was shielded from TV, radio, and newspapers by his parents as a youth. Instead, he became exposed to revolutionary ideas by reading the books of Ali Shariati and Samad Behrangi.
At age 17, he left Iran for the United States. He attended Drew College Preparatory School, a private college-preparatory high school located in San Francisco, California. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, from which he gained a BA in International Relations in 1981 and an MA in the same subject in 1982. Following this, Zarif continued his studies at the Graduate School of International Studies (now named the Josef Korbel School of International Studies) at the University of Denver, from which he obtained a second MA in International Relations in 1984 and this was followed by a PhD in International Law and Policy in 1988. His thesis was entitled: "Self-Defense in International Law and Policy".